Jews & Sports

from Big Mo's Sports Desk

Pre-Teen Ping Pong Phenom Forfeits Shabbat Championship Match

An 11-year-old Jewish girl from West Hempstead, Long Island, NY, opted out of competing in the 2012 U.S. National Table Tennis Championships because the final match fell out on Shabbat.

Estee Ackerman told The New York Post that she was greatly disappointed to see that her match would be taking place on December 21, a Friday night, and therefore would not be able to compete, adding that she practiced and trained for six months to prepare for the competition. Some 800 players participated in the five-day event in Las Vegas.

"Ping pong is important to me, but my religion of Judaism is also very important to me," said Ackerman, who is ranked fourth nationally in the 8-to-11 age bracket.

"She had a Shabbos-over-sports moment," her father Glenn Ackerman, a funeral-home director, told The Post. "She had to withdraw from the event as tournament officials said they were not able to reschedule it on such short notice for after Shabbos."

"Hopefully, other Jewish athletes will also look to Estee to pursue their dreams in whatever sport they choose," he said.

Her talent for competitive table tennis was first discovered by professional ping-pong player, Biba Golic, at a tournament in July in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Golic, the celebrity promoter of Killerspin ping-pong items, awarded Estee a sponsorship after seeing her play against and defeat a 30-year-old man. "Tactically and strategically she has a natural sense for the game," Golic said. "When you start to play against a 30-year-old guy the natural reaction for such a young girl is to get scared, but she was not taken by fears. She was just playing her game and beating this guy."

While Estee is only 11 years old, she often beats players in their 20s and 30s, her father told the paper.

Estee expressed the hope to one day represent the United States in table tennis at the Olympics, an event that the US has never once medaled in.


[Based on an article in the New York Post (Jan 2, 2013). Photo: VINNews (]

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